Overwhelmed! Should we get a complete plan first?

Robin Morris
6 years ago

Last summer, for better or worse, we bought a fixer upper for a lot of $$$ in the SF Bay area (Peninsula). It needs a lot of work... way too much work. Here is all the work I want to do to the house eventually (with 9 and 10 being optional dream items):
1. Remove the walls (including a few load bearing walls) in the main living area of the house creating a great room that includes the kitchen.
2. Gut and redo the whole 1978 kitchen (I want a professional high end kitchen as cooking is my passion)
3. Add a master suite (bedroom and bath) addition to the back of the existing second floor that will be ~700 square feet. This will affect the configuration of one of the existing bedrooms and possibly the existing bathroom as well. This addition will be located above the great room where I plan to have the load bearing walls removed, and the new master bath will be above the kitchen.
4. Gut and redo the entire 1941 pink upstairs bathroom.
5. Raise the ceiling in the hallway and down stairs bathroom from 6' 10" to something sane (this will be a difficult design problem because the guest bedroom is right above it).
6. Gut and redo the weird downstairs bathroom
7. Move the entrance to the backyard from the left side of the house to the right side of the house so that it is near the kitchen.
8. Put in an outdoor door kitchen/living space outside the kitchen
9. Install a wine cellar under the outdoor kitchen (the house's floor is 4-5 feet above the ground, so they wouldn't have to dig too deep).
10. Add a small greenhouse/sunroom to the left side of the house where the current back door is.

Looking at the whole list makes me a bit panicky! Makes me wonder why we did this to ourselves! :)

Anyway, after buying the house, we don't have enough funds left to do all this now, so we are planning on breaking it up into 3 phases: I am thinking 1 and 2 in the first phase, 3-6 in the second phase, and 7-10 in the last phase (is that a good idea or would it be much cheaper to do it all at once?).

So, before we start on phase 1, does it make sense to get plans drawn up for the whole thing or can I just tell the engineer about plans for a second story so that he makes sure the great room will support the load? Do we need to take in consideration the bathroom that will be above the kitchen for plumbing etc..?
Should I find out how much of this is even possible (I don't know how they will even get anything to the backyard since the walkways on the sides of our house are only 4-5 feet wide)?

Also, does anyone have any good contractor recommendations for the bay area? I am definitely overwhelmed with what to do first and whether or not to talk to regular kitchen remodelers or full architects... Also, we are on far more of a tight budget than I would like.... this is supposed to be the dream kitchen in our eventual dream home. I want more than anything to find a great GC or firm we can trust and use for all phases that is budget conscious, doesn't cut corners, and will be straight forward about pricing (no hidden fees or BS overhead charges like the GC we are using to do our seismic retrofit).

Btw, I know exactly what I want to have done for phase 1 for the layout (I will eventually post my kitchen layout for feedback in a different thread), but we haven't picked out the exact cabinets or things like that yet (although we have a lot pictures bookmarked). I am not sure if we want to get an interior/kitchen designer to help. It is so overwhelming!

Spending my nights reading these forums has been educational. There are lots of great threads with great advice (thanks!). And also lots of horror stories to add to my nervousness :)
Any advice would be much appreciated.


Here is our current first floor layout with some notes about what I want to change.

Comments (37)